Waiting game (Or: Press conference in the Netherlands tomorrow)

Tomorrow the Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte will announce what coronavirus measures will be lifted, and in some cases what measures will be extended. For us normal folk, it’s a guessing game.

One expectation is that the ban on events will be extended. Some Dutch mayors are hoping for an extension of the ban until 1 September: Burgemeesters willen tot zeker 1 september een verbod op evenementen (nos.nl, article in Dutch). This one I do expect to happen as it’s unlikely that the government would ignore them.

Another measure that people are quite interested in is the re-opening of schools. Scholen open of langer dicht? ‘Zelfs leerlingen beginnen school nu te missen’ (nos.nl, article in Dutch). The headline reads: Schools open, or closed for longer? Even students are beginning to miss school now. Yikes! Meivakantie (“May vacation”) begins next week, from 25 April to 3 May. After that… working parents everyone are looking for a break. If we see any change here, it might be the elementary schools opening first.

The other big one is whether or not restaurants will be fully open, rather than just open for takeout and delivery. This one I don’t expect to change any time soon. June at the earliest. However, that doesn’t mean restaurants can’t plan in the meantime. For instance, some restaurant owners on the Scheveningen beach have presented how they see life in the ‘1.5m society’: Strandtenten klaar voor serveren op anderhalve meter: ‘Zee aan ruimte’. (nos.nl, article in Dutch).

Work is another interesting dilemma, especially in the office – that one I can’t predict. I don’t think they are ready to lift the ‘work from home if you can’ advice, so I expect we will be working from home a bit longer. But perhaps they will remind businesses that now is the time to start thinking about how it will look in the future.

Which brings me to my last point… public transportation. That is a definite wildcard as that will cost a lot of money and effort to get to work in this new social distancing society. See also: Public transport adapted to the 1,5-metre society could cost over a billion euros (IamExpat.nl) or the article Openbaar Vervoer Nederland: richtlijnen nodig voor wie met ov mag reizen (nos.nl, article in Dutch).

In that article the OV is asking for criteria by which someone may or may not use public transportation. According to the article, public transportation is about 10% of normal usage right now. To stick to the 1.5 meters requirement, traffic can only be about 15% of normal usage for trams and buses and about 20 to 25% normal usage for the metro and trains. Yeah…no. I can’t see Dutchies voluntarily waiting for the next bus if this one is too full. It was only last week that two trains were stopped and emptied at Gouda Centraal because they were too full (OmroepWest.nl, article in Dutch).

With all of that being said: we shouldn’t expect too much tomorrow, in my opinion. A few relaxations here and there, perhaps. Considering we were under an “intelligent lockdown”, versus a “true lockdown”, we’re already somewhat closer to normalcy than neighboring countries are. ‘Geen grote stappen’: kabinet tempert nogmaals verwachtingen voor morgen (nos.nl, article in Dutch). This is also covered in the article Dutch have no plans to recommend face masks, health minister says (DutchNews.nl).

Only time will tell: tomorrow we shall see.

“Tulip bulb grower Rik Pennings leaves a message behind after removing tulips: See you next year”
Categories: Transportation, Working & Volunteering | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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